This anime from 2005 teaches us how to build human relationships with relatable slice-of-life episodes spiced with a dash of magic.
By: Nicole S. Castro on April 28, 2022 at 14:17 PHT
The early 2000s were a golden age for magical girl anime, and we miss it badly!
So for a well-deserved piece of nostalgia, we're doing a throwback on one of the most popular magical girl anime of said time period (in addition to Ojamajo Doremi): Sugar Sugar Rune!
Sugar Sugar Rune (Japanese: シュガシュガルーン) is a Japanese magical girl manga series written and illustrated by Moyoco Anno. It was serialized in the shōjo manga magazine Nakayoshi from August 2004 to April 2007. The series was collected into eight tankobon volumes published by Kodansha from March 2004 to September 2007. In 2005, it won the 29th Kodansha Manga Awards in the children's manga category.
In 2005, Sugar Sugar Rune was also adapted into an anime television series produced by Studio Pierrot, which aired on TV Tokyo from July 2, 2005 to June 24, 2006 with a total of 51 episodes.
Plot and Throwback (anime)
But first, everybody sing "CHOCOLA a la folie!" with the opening theme song, Chocolate ni Muchuu by Karia Nomoto.
The story stars best friends Chocolat Meilleure (CV: Marika Matsumoto) and Vanilla Mieux (CV: Juri Ibata), two young witches competing as candidates to become the future queen of the Magical World. To win the title, they must go to the Human World and compete by capturing the hearts of boys called ecure, which are emotions that take the form of colorful crystals (whose points differ by ranking and color). Whoever collects the most points by the end of the competition will succeed incumbent Queen Candy (CV: Sumi Shimamoto), Vanilla's mother.
In the Human World, Chocolat and Vanilla take on the aliases Chocolat Kato and Vanilla Aisu respectively. They live with pop idol and wizard Rockin' Robin (CV: Kenjirou Tsuda), who acts as their mentor and guardian, as well as their two familiars Duke the frog (CV: Yuuichi Yasoda) and Blanca the mouse (CV: Chisa Yokoyama).
As they begin to collect hearts in the Human World, Chocolat is culture shocked because the humans prefer Vanilla's shy personality to her outgoing one (which was popular in the Magical World). In her desire to catch up to Vanilla's lead, Chocolat tries fencing and other popular activities which leads her to a mysterious boy named Pierre Tempête de Neige (CV: Ryousei Konishi).
The drama unfolds with Chocolat developing feelings for Pierre, who turns out to be the Ogre Prince. Pierre initially flirted with Chocolat in order to steal her heart (which is dangerous for witches as they only have one unlike humans who have more emotional energy), but finds himself falling in love with her as well and remembering that they were childhood friends.
Meanwhile, Vanilla struggles with her inferiority complex against Chocolat. As Chocolat gradually catches up in the hearts race, Vanilla grows more paranoid and insecure, giving Pierre the chance to manipulate her. Believing that she needs to lose her old self and that her mother favors Chocolat, Vanilla agrees to become Pierre's Ogre Princess by having a Noir (black) heart implanted in her, thus amplifying her magic.
To save Vanilla, Chocolat seeks the help of her witch friend Amble, who teaches her more powerful forms of magic. Chocolat realizes Vanilla's true heart is hiding behind her Noir heart, so she makes the risk of taking Vanilla's Noir heart. This is when Chocolat realizes she can do the filtre spell which can purify Noir hearts and turn them white (Blanc), which is exclusive to her and her mother Cinnamon (CV: Sakiko Uran).
In the final battle, Chocolat gives her heart to Pierre, who gives his heart back to her. She uses the filtre spell to save Pierre, whose true heart was also hiding behind a Noir heart and was being controlled by Glacé, the grand duke of darkness.
What about the ending?
The anime and the manga somewhat differ in terms of the ending (i.e. who becomes Queen).
In the anime, Vanilla wins the competition by having more hearts, but immediately refuses the crown and passes it down to Chocolat, who officially becomes the next queen. Pierre and Chocolat, who had exchanged hearts in the final battle, get married in the Magical World, making Chocolat the first queen of both the Magical and Ogre worlds. But she and Vanilla choose to stay in the Human World a little longer to learn more things before Chocolat fully takes on the responsibilities as queen. Pierre returns to the Human World with them but no longer feeds on Noir hearts.
In the manga, Vanilla wins the right to be Queen, but initially refuses to take the crown. She finally accepts it because Chocolat went missing in the void with Pierre. Chocolat and Pierre eventually find their way out, but Chocolat persuades Vanilla to stay as queen because the people of the Magical World have seen her good deeds. Vanilla retains her position and ends up with Houx (CV: Ryouhei Kimura).
We give this anime a 4.5/5 stars for its catchy concept of "stealing hearts" but also for staying loyal to the tropes and aesthetics of the classic shoujo genre. Both Chocolat and Vanilla are wonderful characters, and while Chocolat usually takes the spotlight, the story (both in the manga and anime) never neglects to remind us that Vanilla's subtle grace is irreplaceable and fitting for a queen. Chocolat and Pierre's romance is also one of the most memorable parts for us fans, and it's good to see a series where the heroine saves the hero just as much he saves her. The slice-of-life moments wherein Chocolat and Vanilla learn more about human relationships as they collect hearts also serve as little life lessons for the target audience of this series.
We'd say your childhood to pre-teen years wouldn't be complete without Sugar Sugar Rune.
Digest by AniradioPlus
NICOLE S. CASTRO
Nicole is based in the Philippines and works as a freelance Japanese Translator/Interpreter and copywriter (English). She is a JLPT N2 passer who watches anime to "study" for N1. She has a long career history on LinkedIn (with primary focus on media and translation), but her anime watchlist is much, much longer.